The Saint interviewed Sam Koch, a fifth year computer scientist who was lucky enough to secure an internship at Facebook over the summer.
The Saint: How did you hear about the internship?
Sam Koch: The computer science department regularly sends out emails with internships or post-grad schemes that we can apply to and Facebook just happened to be one of those.
TS: What was the application process like?
SK: The email we got from our department had the contact details for a university recruiter for Facebook so I emailed her, and she requested my CV and covering letter. Once I passed that stage I arranged two one-hour phone interviews with a Facebook software engineer. Each interview started with some general questions about why I chose computer science and why I wanted to work at Facebook. There were then two technical questions testing my coding skills, where they linked me up to a website where we could both share any text we were writing. Then they gave me a chance to ask them some questions, so I chose to ask what the office is like, and what sort of work I’d be working on.
TS: What kinds of internships do they offer? What did you do?
SK: There are software engineering, computer security, graphical designer, sales and advertisement internships. I did a software engineering internship, like most of the interns I met, basically writing the code to making what the designers want to be made.
TS: How was the move?
SK: I’m from London, so they gave me the choice to work in the London office, but also gave me the chance to work at their headquarters in Menlo Park, California. I jumped at the chance to do this as I’d never been to the West Coast before. In Menlo Park they gave us the choice to live in fully furnished corporate housing, for no cost, or there was a set amount of money we could have expensed towards finding our own accommodation, but most places cost so much in California that I, and the majority of interns, took the corporate housing. It was very different to what I was used to at first; their pharmacies all sell beer and ping pong balls, I got ID-ed everywhere and the portion sizes were astronomical.
However, the Mexican food and the sushi in California is fantastic.
TS: What were the other interns like?
SK: The other interns were great, all extremely intelligent and very friendly. I was the only Brit, so a lot of them were excited to just hear me talk.
TS: What were the best perks?
SK: The food. Without doubt, the best cafeteria food you’ll ever eat. Three meals a day, five days a week, all free. Free at lunch was also a pizza place, a burger shack, a burrito bar, a BBQ shack and a fully organic salad bar with a mini carvery. I did put on some weight, but thankfully there’s a 24/7 access gym on campus too.
TS: Can you work in the UK?
SK: Yes, they have a London office in Covent Garden which is really nice. They also have offices in New York and Seattle.
TS: What was your day to day routine?
SK: On some mornings I’d take either the 7.25 or 8.40 shuttle to work, then hit the gym, get some breakfast and start work at 9.45/10. I would have a meeting at 11.30, and lunch around 12.30-1.30. I’d then have a quick ping pong break at 3.30, and dinner at 6.30 and take the 7.30 or 8.50 shuttle home. Because the work is all results-based, finishing projects by a certain date, there are no official office hours, and you can even work from home if you don’t have any meetings.
TS: What did you work on (project-wise)?
SK: I started on the sharing team; I was assigned to add sharing posts to private messages from the Android app. Then I moved to the Android photos team, and added the ability to save photos from the app to your phone. I also worked on a project regarding the camera in the app, but I can’t say what until it’s released.
TS: Did you meet Mark Zuckerberg?
SK: I was lucky enough to chase him down and talk to him for a minute. He was really nice, intelligent and very committed to Facebook.
TS: What was the pay like?
SK: It’s pretty damn good. I don’t want to say how much because I don’t want people to hate me, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say it’s good.
TS: Would you go back?
SK: In a heartbeat. Once I finish my masters and if they let me; it’s an office like no other. The best perks, everyone is happy, and you get to work on a product that reaches over a billion people. I’d highly recommend it to anyone; they’re always looking to hire not only engineers but also salespeople and designers. Straight away you get given a lot of responsibilities, the same as someone who’s been there for years. It’s quite daunting at first, but it’s also incredibly exciting to be right in the middle of it.